Novel of the week

The Week Middle East - - Arts -

Beau­ti­ful An­i­mals by Lawrence Os­borne Hog­a­rth 304pp £14.99

“Lawrence Os­borne writes thrillers about af­flu­ent Western Euro­peans who ac­ci­den­tally en­counter the rest of the suf­fer­ing world,” said Deb­o­rah Levy in the Fi­nan­cial Times. In his lat­est, set on the Greek is­land of Hy­dra, two priv­i­leged young women be­friend each other while hol­i­day­ing with their fam­i­lies. On a de­serted beach, they dis­cover a Syr­ian refugee, Faoud, whom they per­suade to com­mit an “Oedi­pal crime” which will help him es­cape to main­land Europe. Hold­ing read­ers “in his thrall”, Os­borne of­fers an “un­sen­ti­men­tal cri­tique of the con­tem­po­rary world in cri­sis”.

This is a “vaguely silly, vaguely pro­found and ex­tremely en­joy­able” book, said Sam Kitch­ener in Lit­er­ary Re­view. Os­borne “man­ages sus­pense with great skill”, while tak­ing “care to note ev­ery shot of ouzo or tsipouro that passes his char­ac­ters’ lips”. For all that it is at­mo­spheric, some of the writ­ing in Beau­ti­ful An­i­mals is af­fected by an “air of ram­shackle im­pro­vi­sa­tion”, said Robert Dou­glas-Fairhurst in The Times. “The re­sult is strangely un­nerv­ing”; weird, but mostly “suc­cess­ful”.

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